My lovely wife and our beautiful children ask me every year what I want for Father’s Day and each year, I say I don’t want anything. Even though I know that they’ll still look to get me something, I sincerely mean it when I say that I don’t want anything. That doesn’t mean I will be upset with them when they get me something anyway, but the reason I say I don’t want anything is because I feel I already have the best gift I could ever ask for and that is, our two children.
Jamal is 9 years old and Bianca is 6. I’m spending Father’s Day this year in Afghanistan, but even when I’m at home and get to see them every day, there aren’t very many times I can think about them and not just laugh out loud or get lost in the joys of being a father.
I’ve wanted to be a father all my life. I can’t even remember when it started because I know the feeling has always been there. I’ve always wanted children. When I was young, I didn’t really get why, except I thought it was cool (sometimes) to have brothers and sisters. As I got older and understood just what it meant to have children, never did I give up on wanting them. Growing up, I used every opportunity to do “Dad” things. I volunteered to change babies if I happened to be visiting with someone who had children. I had so much fun feeding them. Teaching them this and that was great.
My father was there on and off for us, at least during my childhood. He passed away four years ago, so this is not going to be a bashing session. Obviously, I looked to him for guidance on what it meant to be a father and while there were a lot of good moments where I learned a lot, there were also many in which I learned what NOT to do. Now there are some members of my family who can’t say a nice thing about him, but again, he’s passed away. It serves no purpose to continue beating him down now. Before I left home to join the Army nearly 17 years ago, he gave me a Bible and I’ve had it with me ever since. That showed me that even though he didn’t always do the right thing, I’m sure he was pretty aware of what his mistakes were.
Anyway, I am SO proud to be a father today and I’m even prouder when people can see this in me. I talk about our children all the time. People have told me that they can see it in my eyes and feel it when speak as to how proud and thankful I am to be a father. The great thing is that it’s the honest truth.
Now people may read something like this and the first thing they think is that I’m being “fake” or that I’m not being totally honest about this. Luckily for me, they’re not wearing robes and I’m not standing in a courtroom, so I don’t need to convince anyone of anything. The reason this probably would sound fake to people is because in THEIR minds, this kind of thinking and feeling isn’t possible. There have been women out there who have told me that I “can’t” love our children more than my wife does. It supposedly isn’t possible because I’m not their mother. People will small minds like that aren’t even worth wasting any more time on.
You see, I’m not writing this to prove anything. I’m not writing this convince anyone of anything. I’m not writing this to show off. I’m writing this because I feel like writing it. These days, people feel as though everything must be catered to them in some kind of way and if they don’t believe it, then we have to convince them. If you’re one of those folks, you’ve come to the wrong place. As I said above, when you show me a black robe then I’ll worry about making you believe something.
As for our children, I am so proud of them. I do spend a lot of time, especially when I’m on deployments like this and are away from them, wondering if I’m doing everything the right way with them. I look at all my mistakes and I really beat myself up over them. I feel terrible. I know that it’s normal, but I still do it. I wonder if the things I say will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I wonder if I’m giving them as much time as I possibly can when I’m back there. I’ve said it on my Facebook page that I feel like being out here, even when it wasn’t by choice, is failing them. They understand why I’m here, but I still put it on myself, because I feel like I’m not doing the right thing as a father. It can’t be helped, especially since I want to remain in the Army for the next three years, but this is still the pressure I put on myself, and I truly would not want it any other way.
It always gets me when people imply that being a father means that I “have no life.” When my wife went to Korea two years ago and I had the children for the year she was gone, it was so often assumed that I would just struggle and be a complete mess, being the man and all. My hands would be full. I wouldn’t have a life. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself. Lord knows, that’s not all. Not once has anyone ASKED anything as far as how I would feel, but I suppose assuming to some people is the same being right. When I chose to be a father, I knew what I was getting myself into. My wife and I planned everything, despite people telling us that it was “impossible” to be “truly” ready to have children. What my wife and I heard was that all THOSE pregnancies were accidentally, but moving on…it’s astounding to me that because other people may not be as crazy about their children or the things they had to give up, it must mean that I feel the same way. The things I do with our children are the things I WANT to do with them. They’re not some inconvenience that I have “brace” myself for. It was crazy the things people (mostly women) assumed when my wife went to Korea. The funny thing is that none of those women were ever in our house, so what proof they had was beyond me.
Every day of being a father is a blessing to me. I enjoy every minute of it. I miss them every time I’m not there with them and worry about them all the time. Again, that’s exactly how I want it.
I think often about those men out there who are not able to have children and be fathers. This is the reason I call being a father such a blessing; because it is NOT guaranteed to everyone. I don’t take my job for granted at all and I understand the magnitude of it. I spend all my time just hoping that I am doing the right thing and influencing them as best as possible. It seems as though I am for now, but I’m still going to work for that to continue.
A lot of people out there, despite all the showing off of the children and everything else, do not take their jobs seriously or they take them for granted. Like a lot of other things, they feel it is a God-given RIGHT to have children and everyone in the world is afforded that opportunity. It’s not as though there aren’t a TON of stories of people being unable to have children or us not knowing people in our personal lives who fall in this category, but then it’s just like school tragedies. The first thing everyone comes out and says is, “Make sure you hug your children tighter tonight!” which is bullshit. You should be doing that already. If you haven’t gotten the concept that when you drop your children off at school, every day could be the last day you see them, then you don’t deserve to be a parent. There’s no reason you don’t “hug them tighter” every day. None at all. You will never have to tell me that, because I truly understand what it means to be a father, and I understand how broken my heart would be if that were ever taken away from me. I don’t need a school strategy to understand that.
So when I’m asked by anyone, “What do you want for Father’s Day?” I say, “Nothing.” And I mean it. Because in being blessed enough to be a father, I have everything I could ever ask for.